Fireworks from Key and Denly light up drab draw

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The Independent Online

Joe Denly and Rob Key's hectic opening stand lent a late glow – but fell short of an extra bonus point – in a frustrating conclusion to Kent's rain-induced County Championship stalemate against Surrey at Canterbury yesterday.

In a First Division match which ultimately confirmed the hosts as credible title outsiders and their visitors as relegation favourites, the Kent pair provided the lasting memories. Needing an unlikely 200 from 34 overs for another point, after Surrey declared on 307 for 9 at tea, Denly (80) and Key (76 not out) outdid Mark Ramprakash's hundred of the previous day.

Both operating at better than a run-a-ball on the way to 159 in only 21 overs, Denly's tempo was slightly quicker. Yet in the end, poor weather – which cost this match more than 250 overs – returned in the guise of bad light to wipe out the last 12, with Kent on 160 for 1.

Both teams banked seven points, Kent moved up to third – nine off the lead – with Surrey 18 adrift at the bottom. With only two matches left for each, the reward for dodging the downpours over the last four days was short of what either might have hoped.

For Surrey, Usman Afzaal made 67 before a flash outside off-stump at McLaren saw Van Jaarsveld take a good catch high to his right at second slip. The stakes were raised in a double-wicket maiden from Amjad Khan, Alex Tudor and Jimmy Ormond his victims. But Surrey just got over the line to 300 when Matthew Spriegel drove Khan over extra-cover for four.

In the Pro40 First Division, Middlesex slipped to the bottom after going down by 19 runs in their match with Nottinghamshire at Lord's. Nottinghamshire only made 180 but despite Eoin Morgan top scoring with 39, Middlesex were unable to deal with a solid bowling display from the Outlaws, with Graeme Swann picking up 3 for 27.

Samit Patel, who has replaced Swann as England's spinner in the one-day side, took two wickets for 40 runs off his eight overs while Middlesex's Andrew Strauss was trapped leg before wicket for 13 and Owais Shah made only 12 as their side came up short.